Four veteran Hagerstown Police Department officers, each with about 30 years experience, have retired after agreeing to take a city-offered incentive.
One of the officers, Mike King, said he believes the city offered the incentive because it faces tough challenges in the current economy when property tax revenues are down and income to the city has decreased.
The head of the City of Hagerstown’s human resources department agreed with King’s assessment and said that in all, eight city employees took advantage of the retirement incentive.
The program has saved the city $500,000, Donna Frazier said.
She said a fifth veteran officer has agreed to take the incentive in the second phase of the program. That officer will retire June 30, Frazier said.
King, who retired with the rank of lieutenant, worked in the Patrol Division, spent 11 years in canine patrol and worked for about nine years as a detective in the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Rick Reynolds, who retired with the rank of lieutenant, worked as a patrol sergeant, ran the Western Maryland Police Academy from 2000 to 2005, and ran the city police department’s in-service training program at the academy.
Steve Hoover was a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division. He also worked for 18 years as a sniper with the department’s special-response team, was the department’s firearms instructor for 23 years and spent his last 10 years on the job as the department’s domestic-violence coordinator, which includes training officers in how to handle domestic-violence calls.
The fourth officer who retired in the first phase of the incentive program could not be reached for comment.
Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the department will have to adjust to losing veteran officers. Some of the officers started training their successors awhile ago, he said.
The retirement-incentive program saves the city money because the department is able to hire young officers at lower pay, according to the chief.
“So it benefits the taxpayers,” Smith said.
Hoover said the department loses experienced officers through such a program.
“We’ve done just about everything in that department,” Hoover said. “That (experience) doesn’t come overnight.”
Police departments are designed to carry on with new officers who come on board and gradually replace the more experienced officers who have left, Hoover said.
King, Reynolds and Hoover said they each received $20,000 as an incentive to retire.
Hoover started his career at the police department as a patrol officer in the Uniform Division, where he spent about half his career. Then he became a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division, where he spent the rest of his career.
Hoover said he has fond memories of Hagerstown, where he grew up. To serve the town as a member of the police department was special, he said.
“I love that town,” said Hoover, who now lives in Falling Waters, W.Va.
King, who was four months shy of having 30 years on the job when he retired, said he started as a cadet with the department when he was 19 years old.
“I had a very rewarding career,” King said.
King started work Jan. 3 as a patrol officer for the Shepherdstown, W.Va., Police Department.
Reynolds, who was with the department for 30 years and 10 months, joined the department in 1980 as a patrol officer. He said he stayed in the Patrol Division for about 12 years and then was assigned to head up the department’s DARE drug abuse-resistance program.
Reynolds later returned to the Patrol Division and was promoted to sergeant.
As an “outsider” from Montgomery County, Md., Reynolds said he hardly knew anyone in Hagerstown when he came here. He ended up spending much of his adult life here.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a great way to spend a life,” said Reynolds, who is now bailiff in the courtroom of Washington County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer.
Four police officers take advantage of Hagerstown's retirement incentive
Mike King (Submitted photo)